Thursday, January 7, 2010


Flipping through websites, I saw a blip on yahoo that said female singers make history. There was a headshot of three of them. I don't know who they are because I live under a rock, nor do I know what sort of history they made.

In that split second after I read that headline, the thought flew through my mind that I want to do something great. Not for glory or money or massive amounts of chocolate or to get my picture on yahoo with the headline "Female person makes history," but just because. I want to do something great to make the world just a little bit better than it was before.

Is that an odd desire? I don't know. So I sit here wondering if all people have the desire to do something great. And what do they do about it?

And what constitutes greatness anyway?

It's not all peace treaties and stock market victories, speed records, Hollywood contracts, and entertainment achievements.

On some days, it seems like patiently assisting with the homework of a very frustrated child constitutes greatness.

Or cooking a glorious meal. Or holding the hand of a suffering friend. Remembering to find the tap shoes your sister asked you to send to her.

Can there be greatness without love?


  1. as with most things, i think the desire for greatness has two polarities that people are drawn to: either the ego-centric desire to be better than others, or the human desire to leave behind a lasting legacy. the ego driven greatness is that greatness without love of anyone but the self.

    the problem isn't desiring greatness, as far as i can tell, it's assuming it can be made to happen. surely if we all desired and strove for greatness we couldn't achieve it because there'd be nothing non-great to compare it with. and of course there's always that question of greatness for one not being the same for all.

    for me the path to greatness is to do the things i feel driven to do as best as possible and to keep at it no matter what. in the end the totality of my accomplishments is the effect i am looking for, a record of achievment. by focusing on that i hope to find a little greatness as a bi-product. So we'll see.

    small steps, long journey, and all that.

  2. Well, there is greatness without love. But we usually call it monstrosity.

    Not very long ago I came across a quote (and I'm paraphrasing like mad here): "Most famous people are at the core utterly insignificant; most people who are truly significant are not famous." This type of significance seems connected to your concept of greatness--to do something that improves the world in some way, to bring some inner vision to life.

    I'd say the obvious thing, I suppose: let your love help you find the answer. Look at the world as it is, and allow your sense of compassion to pick out something in it you sense as wrong, or at least out of kilter. What could you do to correct it or nudge it back into place?